Good News, Southerners!

For years, there’s been this notion that the South is home to the fattest people in the nation. Well, come to find out, people in the South aren’t necessarily fatter… they’re just more honest.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have been conducting a long-term study called “Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke”, or REGARDS for short. They’ve found that people in the South tend to have higher blood pressure, more cases of diabetes, and more strokes than other regions of the country. And, like most folks, they assumed that it’s because of higher obesity rates in the South.

However, when they started weighing people themselves, they found that the numbers didn’t add up. So they started weighing people in other parts of the country, and found that those numbers really didn’t add up.

Come to find out, most of the data used to determine obesity rates comes from the Centers for Disease Control’s “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System” study. And that data comes from telephone interviews. And guess what? People tend to lie in telephone interviews. People in the South were simply more honest about their weight compared to people in other parts of the country.

According to the folks at UAB, who conducted their own obesity study which divided the country into the same nine regions the US Census Bureau uses, the most obese part of the country is the “West North Central” region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and the Dakotas). The “East South Central” (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky), which has always ranked first in the CDC studies, came in fifth in the UAB study.

No word on where the “South Atlantic” region (which includes the Carolinas, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and Virginia) is on UAB’s list.

In their investigation, UAB also found that women are much more likely to underreport their weight than men… but men are much more likely to overreport their height which, of course, makes their weight issues seem like less of a problem.

Read more here. Link to their study in the journal Obesity here.

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